Source: Manila Bulletin
The Philippines’ fight against the African Swine Fever (ASF), a fatal animal disease among hogs, just got even more complicated after areas previously cleared from the dreaded virus reportedly saw its resurgence.
Without expounding, Agriculture Secretary William Dar confirmed on Monday, Oct. 11, that some areas in Batangas and Ilocos that were already declared ASF-free have again recently recorded a few cases of the virus.
Dar then said that the ASF is really bound to spread if the public will not cooperate with the government in containing the virus.
“There are people who keep on selling infected meat that’s why the virus also keeps on spreading,” Dar said in a briefing with reporters.
Right now, ASF has already spread to five regions, 11 provinces, 31 municipalities, and seven barangays in the country.
Back in June, the Department of Agriculture (DA) declared six local government units (LGUs) in Batangas ASF-free, the first “local declaration” in the country since the virus hit the country in 2019.
The cleared areas include the municipalities of Rosario, Malvar, Taysan, San Jose, Nasugbu, and Lipa City.
“After 16 months, the public and private sector finally reaps their fruit of labor, as six out of 18 areas are declared as ASF-free zones,” DA said in an earlier statement.
To fight the virus, the LGUs, the Agricultural Training Institute – International Training Center on Pig (ATI-ITCPH), National Livestock Program, hog raisers organizations, and the Philippine College of Swine Practitioners (PCSP) had to form a technical working group on ASF called the “Bantay ASF sa Barangay” or BABay ASF.
During the declaration of ASF-free areas, Samuel Castro, head of the National ASF Task Force, noted that BABay ASF continues to face challenges in the Philippines. He then encouraged the declared ASF-free areas to document their best practices in order to help other regions to move forward.
The country is currently under a state of calamity due to the ASF outbreak. This was declared in May 2021.
Latest data from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) here in Manila (Post) showed that the country’s local pork output has remained flat due to the continuous spread of ASF.
For this year, Post sees the country producing almost the same annual output for pork, or around 1.0 million metric tons (MT) in carcass weight equivalent (CWE), due to the recent ASF outbreaks in Cagayan Province and Ilocos Norte (both located in northern Luzon).
The latest report by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) also noted that the country’s total pork production declined by 25.8 percent from January to June 2021 from 783,083 MT CWE to 579,502 MT CWE during the same period last year.
As this happens, data from the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) showed that inventories of frozen or imported pork in accredited cold storages in the Philippines have been reaching historically high levels over the last few weeks.
From September 20 to 27, inventories of frozen pork in accredited cold storages in the Philippines stood at 79,390.78 MT. While this is slightly lower than the peak of 83,197.70 during the previous week, this is more than a hundred percent from the 39,004.51 MT recorded during the same period last year.
From August 8 to 14, frozen pork inventory also peaked at 77,761 MT.